When Temple travels to play Duke University on Sept. 2 for its 2022 season opener, it’ll be the start of the Stan Drayton era.
Last December, Drayton left his post as running backs coach and associate head coach at the University of Texas to serve as Temple’s head football coach. Athletic director Arthur Johnson felt the need to replace former coach Rod Carey, who led the Owls to a 12-20 record in three seasons at Temple.
If Temple plans to recover and compete for conference championships again, the program will need Drayton’s experience from coaching at Power 5 and NFL programs to help the program improve.
Drayton has emphasized Temple’s classic “Temple TUFF” mantra since being hired, which factored heavily into which players were awarded single-digit jerseys for the 2022 season.
“Turn on the film and Temple TUFF shows up in your actions,” Drayton said in his introductory presser in December. “We’ll try to impose our will through the run game and an attacking style of defense. Temple TUFF shows up in your execution of getting degrees.”
Since the 2009 season, Temple has awarded single-digit jerseys awarded by both players and coaches in a fashion similar to how team captains are selected around the country. However, in Drayton’s first season as head coach, he left the decision solely to his coaching staff as they believed the team had forgotten what the honor meant.
“When we talk in terms of single digits, we’re talking about the best of the best,” Drayton said. “We’re talking about guys who are doing the right things on and off the football field.”
With conferences realigning, the regional structure of college football is disappearing. Name, Image and Likeness deals are taking the country by storm and the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) could potentially separate from the NCAA in the coming years.
In this new landscape, Temple will need Drayton’s experiences from coaching former 5-star recruits at Power 5 programs and in the NFL to help Temple compete in the future. They can make long-term progress by recruiting underrated high school players and transfers to Temple based on the idea that they can help players improve.
“[Temple] has to be the fit for them,” Drayton said. “There’s a certain type of makeup of a person that’s going to survive this culture.”
So far, Drayton and his staff have awarded single-digit jerseys to six players: graduate offensive linemen Adam Klein and Isaac Moore, redshirt senior wide receiver and Georgia Tech transfer Adonicas Sanders, redshirt sophomore linebacker Jordan Magee, sophomore defensive end Darian Varner and redshirt freshman cornerback Jalen McMurray.
Klein and Moore, four-time letterwinners, have been mainstays on Temple’s offensive line and are the only remaining players from the staff of former head coach Geoff Collins. As the products of three different coaching staffs, the two offer a unique perspective on the Drayton era thus far.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Moore said. “When we got here in 2018, there was already a solid background and backbone of toughness, then we saw a drop-off.”
Moore attributed the decline to the 2018 departure of Ed Foley, former special teams coordinator, tight ends coach, and associate head coach who spent 11 years at Temple. Now, with Drayton at the helm, Moore is excited for the future of Temple’s program.
Temple’s future is certain to include McMurray, a freshman single-digit player that is now expected to be one of Temple’s top performers and leaders for the Owls for years to come.
McMurray was named the top cornerback on the depth chart on Monday, proving he has been single-digit worthy during training camp. McMurray earned this distinction through vocal leadership in the locker room, a quality which senior cornerbacks and cornerbacks coach Jules Monitar helped him develop, McMurray said.
“They give a safe spot where I feel comfortable opening up,” McMurray said. “They trusted me to do my job as well as I trusted them to do their jobs.”
Drayton has said he can’t accomplish everything he wants to in 2022, but he believes the season must set a foundation for the future of his program. One that will be without the Kleins and Moores of the locker room and led by the McMurrays.
With camaraderie growing between players and coaches alike, a united Temple football program is on the horizon, beginning a culture that Drayton expects to lead to wins.